Preventing genocide is a collective responsibility. Only by meeting this challenge can we match the resolve of the survivors and truly honour the memory of those who died in Rwanda 15 years ago.
2009 Commemorations — 15th Anniversary
International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda
Events — Geneva
Palais des Nations, Geneva.
Organized by the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Rwanda in Geneva in collaboration with UNOG.
Remarks were delivered by Mr. Sergei Ordzhonikidze (UNOG Director-General), followed by statements from Ms. Venetia Sebudandi (Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Rwanda to UNOG), Ms. Navenethem Pillay (UN High Commissioner for Human Rights) and others. The ceremony also included the reading of a testimony of a survivor.
Around the world
Commemorative and educational activities were organized by UN information centres around the world, including in (among others):
- Antananarivo, Madagascar
- Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo
- Bujumbura, Burundi
- Canberra, Australia
- Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
- Lusaka, Zambia
- Mexico City, Mexico
- Nairobi, Kenya
- Pretoria, South Africa
- Windhoek, Namibia
- Vienna, Austria
Event Details — New York
The commemoration ceremony was organized by the United Nations Department of Public Information in cooperation with the Permanent Mission of Rwanda to the UN.
Attended by approximately 400 members of the diplomatic community, UN representatives, students and staff, the commemoration began with traditional Rwandan music and a candle lighting ceremony. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Rwanda to the UN Joseph Nsengimana, and two of his four children lit three candles that burned throughout the ceremony to remember the victims of the genocide.
Among the most poignant moments of the event was the solemn readings of testimonies of survivors of the genocide by Francis Deng, Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, two high school students and a firsthand account by genocide survivor, Jacqueline Murekatete.
Remarks were given by the Secretary-General, Miguel d’Escoto Brockman, the President of the 63rd Session of the General Assembly , Rwandan Permanent Representative Joseph Nsengimana , Ibrahim O. A. Dabbashi , Deputy Permanent Representative of the Socialist People’s Libyan Jamahiriya to the UN, representing the Chairperson of the African Union and Susan E. Rice, Permanent Representative of the United States .
The event also launched two photography exhibits:
"Visions of Rwanda"
Visions of Rwanda was produced by the UN Department of Public Information.
"Intended Consequences: Photos and Interviews of Jonathan Torgovnik" was sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Israel to the UN. This exhibit vividly illustrated the lives of genocide survivors in Rwanda today, the challenges they face and the visions they have for their future.
Gabriela Shalev, Permanent Representative of Israel to the UN , and Mr. Jonathan Torgovnik, the photographer and creator behind the "Intended Consequences" exhibit, spoke about the importance of testimonies and keeping the memory of the victims alive.
Event Details — Global
Republic of the Congo
A commemorative event was held incorporating music and theatre performances, as well as the reading of survivor testimonies.
On 6 April, a press conference chaired by the Ambassador of Rwanda in Burundi was held. The following day, a mass in memory of the victims of the genocide took place in Regina Mundi Cathedral, the major Catholic church in Bujumbura, attended by the First Vice-President of the Republic and the Minister of Foreign Affairs among others. From 11 to 13 April, a series of conferences on themes relating to the Rwanda genocide was organized by the Rwandan Embassy in Burundi, where the UNIC displayed the 'Lessons from Rwanda' exhibit and screened various films on the Rwanda genocide. On 13 April, an official ceremony marked the 15th commemoration of the Rwanda genocide, with remarks by the Executive Representative of the Secretary General, Mr. Youssef Mahmoud, the Minister of Youth, Culture and Sports, Mr. Jean Jacques Nyenimigabo, the Executive Secretary for the Great Lakes Region and the Ambassador of Rwanda in Burundi.
A twilight ceremony was held at the Peace Gardens in Canberra, including the reading of survivor testimonies and poems from local writers.
Dar es Salaam
A candle-lighting ceremony and film screening were held in collaboration with the Embassy of the Republic of Rwanda on 7 April. On 25 April, a public lecture on the lessons of the Rwanda genocide took place at the University of Dar es Salaam.
A two-day exhibition on the Rwanda genocide was held from 7 to 8 April, including a film screening.
In collaboration with the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Africala Film Festival, the UNIC in Mexico hosted a workshop for journalists by experts on the subject of genocide; an educational program for school teachers and students; and a commemorative event, including testimony readings and the screening of films by Rwandan filmmakers.
On 13 April, members of the diplomatic community, religious leaders and UN staff members assembled at the UN Office in Nairobi to commemorate the Rwanda genocide, with prayers led by Christian, Muslim and Rwandese clergymen. The ceremony included the reading of testimonies and closing remarks by the Ambassador of Rwanda to Kenya, Mr. William Kayonga.
On 7 April, in partnership with the Embassy of Rwanda, the University of South Africa Primedia Holocaust & Genocide Unit and the Johannesburg Holocaust Centre, the UNIC in Pretoria organized a commemorative event which included remarks, a film screening and candle-lighting.
Youths of the International Youth Centre expressed the lessons learned from genocides in exhibits, songs, dance, mime and drama. Prof. Ndengejeho Pascal from Rwanda was the keynote speaker at the event in Omaruru.
Webster University Vienna, in partnership with UNIS Vienna, held a commemorative event at the beginning of a seminar on genocide prevention where the Secretary-General's message was delivered, followed by a minute of silence. The students discussed material from the 'Lessons from Rwanda' UN website, including the testimonies of survivors and the new 'Visions of Rwanda' photo exhibit.